Florida jury recommends life imprisonment for Nikolas Cruz, the school shooter who killed 17 people
Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz will be sentenced to life without parole for the 2018 murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, after the jury said Thursday it could not unanimously agree that he had to be executed.
Thursday’s decision follows a three-month trial that included graphic videos, photos and testimony of the massacre and its aftermath, harrowing testimonies from family members of the victims and a tour of the building still spattered with blood.
Under Florida law, a death sentence requires a unanimous vote on at least one count. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally hand down the sentence later.
Cruz, 24, pleaded guilty a year ago to murdering 14 students and three staff and injuring 17 others on February 14, 2018. Cruz said he chose Valentine’s Day to prevent Stoneman Douglas students from celebrating the holiday again.
Lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill and her team presented evidence to claim that Cruz’s birth mother’s heavy drinking during pregnancy left him with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, while that a tumultuous upbringing in which both adoptive parents died on February 14, 2018, set him on a path that led to shooting.